Effective searching is a powerful skill. Think about how often you jump over to Google to look something up during your day. If you understand the nuances of a search engine, you have the ability to find what you’re looking for quickly and potentially find information which adds value to your query but you may not have specifically thought about.
Like most of us, I’ve been frustrated by unsuccessful searches; sometimes it’s just very challenging to find the right combination of keywords and phrases.
I’m sharing some tips I found most useful — some new and some great reminders. Hopefully, you’ll learn a few new nuggets to improve your own searches.
Search a Specific Phrase
Description: “” (double quotes) can be used to search for a specific phrase. Google lists only the results having the given phrase (between the double quotes) with the same order of words as listed in the phrase.
Example: ““I’m good”” (note the inner double quotes is part of the search query) will ask Google to search only for the phrase ‘I’m good’ exactly as is, and not even list results having the phrase ‘I am good’.
Search by Location
Description: City name or Postal code at the end of your search query allows you to make searches for a specific location. This overrules the default behavior of Google to provide results for the location calculated using your Internet connection’s IP address.
Example: “food joints in New Delhi” or “food joints 110033” shows you food joints in New Delhi.
Search for this or that
Description: “OR” is used to give either-or words in the search query. Google lists results having any of those words.
Example: “buy cheap Android OR iPhone” is short for searching two queries “buy cheap Android” OR “buy cheap iPhone” and gives results for both queries.
Be picky about what you don’t want
Description: Minus (-) is used to prohibit words in the search query. Google lists results that don’t have those words.
Example: “buy windows laptop -Dell” will output results that don’t contain ‘Dell’ laptops.
Search between 2 Numbers
Description: “Two periods (..)” lets you search between two numbers in Google. It’s helpful if you’re looking for things in a range, like product prices in your budget range, prime numbers in a range, etc.
Example: “buy Sony camera 10000..50000 INR” will show the pages that sell Sony cameras in between the price range of 10000 to 50000 INR.
Search within a Specific Website
Description: “Site:” lets you search within a given website and not the whole Internet. It’s quite handy if you know the place (website) for your search and saves you from going through undesirable results.
Example: “site: flipkart.com android m” will list results for the search term ‘android m’, but the search will list results only from the mentioned website (flipkart.com) and not from the other sites.
Find Specific Files
Description: “File type:” lets you search for specific files on the web rather than content or websites. It comes handy when you’re searching for presentations or PDFs or drawings or other files whose extension is known.
Example: “file type: pptx greenhouse effect” will search for presentations on the given topic of Greenhouse Effect.
Make Food Comparisons
Description: Google can even compare foods for you. If you’re not sure which food will get you better nutrients or which will not increase your body fat, then you can ask Google and it will answer much like any dietician.
Example: “mango vs. banana” tells Google to compare and present the nutritional info of the given two fruits – Mango and Banana.
Search Newspaper Archives of more than 100 years
Description: Google offers you the access to the digitized news content of over last several years. It scanned and digitized the old printed newspapers in an attempt to bring the content from old newspapers easily accessible to the Internet users.
Example: “site: google.com/newspapers Taj Mahal” will search for an article from scanned newspapers on the topic ‘Taj Mahal’.
Know your IP Address
Description: “Ip address” typed in the search bar shows your current IP address as acquired by Google.
Example: “IP address” lists 126.96.36.199 as my computer’s IP address.
Translate from One Language to Another
Description: “Translate” trigger command can easily translate the text for you using Google Translate. Though you can use it yourself, but asking Google to do the translations is swifter and proves handy when you’re in a hurry.
Example: “translate welcome English Hindi” or “translate welcome English to Hindi” translates the word ‘Welcome’ to ‘स्वागत’.
Get Definitions, Synonyms, Antonyms and Pronunciations
Description: “Define:” lets you ask definitions, get synonyms and antonyms and listen to pronunciations of words. You can click on the small Speaker icon present at the right of the word to listen to its pronunciation.
Example: “define: obligatory” gives you definition, synonyms and pronunciation; and “define: obligatory antonyms” lists its antonyms as well as other information.
Know What Links to What
Description: Link: can easily tell who links to your website or any other web page you want to know about.
Example: “link: google.com,” tells which web pages are linking to Google.com.
Find Similar Websites
Description: Related: The similar websites to the given website are. It’s better to know similar sites if you’re doing a research on some product or website.
Example: “related: flipkart.com” lists some of our rival websites and blogs.
Search for Terms in page’s Titles
Description: Intitle: and allintitle: allows you to search for terms in the page’s titles. Google is not restricted to search only the content but can also search the titles of the pages. Titles usually describe the purpose of the content and a search in titles offers you a refined list of results whose contents are more close to what you’re looking for.
Example: “intitle: India” shows only the results having ‘India’ in their titles; and “allinurl: India drought crisis” shows only the results having ‘India’, ‘drought’ and ‘crisis’ in their titles.
Search the Web by specific Country, Time or Location
Description: Search tools (below the search bar) brings you filtering options to filter the search results based on various criteria like country, time or location. This helps you make better researchers, and easily search news or local content of your location or country